Magnolias ’90

A brief break from the Homecoming Game to present this poemy-thing. Enjoy.

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Come with me as I drive
In summer, ‘91
At night, only night
With the sweet, sweet scent
Of magnolia in bloom
Intoxicating imagination
Stirring dreams


Days unbearably hot
“It’s a real scorcher”
Says the man
With the impossible
Not a hair out of place
That fucker has AC
In his studio
With his shiny


While me
I lay prostrate
Spread eagle and sweating
In supplication
On the bathroom’s chipped tile floor
The coolest surface to be found
Behind the towering church
At Franklin and Highland
In the heart of Hollywood
(before it “sold out”)
Naked and sweltering
Not moving
But melting
With each hour.


Like desert reptiles we lived
Drugging ourselves
Into comas by day
With pills
or booze
or weed
So we could sleep in the shadow
(or at the very least, not move)
Until the sun went down
and the moon rose
with the cricket song
and nighttime noise
That spoke of cooler air
Of the hour and time
To drive.


Whispering wordless
That the workingmen had left
The arctic frost offices
Exempt from restrictions
Placed on when
and where
and how
AC could be used
In reluctant exodus they drove
Slick with sweat
and muttered profanities
Along Sepulveda Boulevard
Inchworms beating them
In their race
To stucco ovens
Their valley homes


While those poor bastards
(and bastardettes)
Tossed and turned in Van Nuys
Waterbeds of sweat
We’d slowly emerge
Uncoiling at night
Desert snakes
Time to live
To work, hunt and play
The 101
Empty and open
At speeds far from legal
As the air cooled
On a magnolia breeze


“Up the Beach” on the Stereo
Avery’s bass ringing out
Long throbbing notes
With windows rolled down
We’d speed and we’d chatter
Humming along
With gulps of espresso
Bringing fire to the hands
Toothy grins to the face
Wheels spinning, minds racing
Down Alvarado
To Wilshire
In the Bryson
We’d meet.


Black ink
Marks on paper
Dry the instant they flow
From brush or from pen
In gestures indelible
Under a canopy of Christmas Lights
Strung from trees in the back
It’s Linseed and canvas and pigment and paint
Color flies
Runs rivers and pools
To the ad-hoc percussion
Staccato beat hammered out
On welded pipe constructs
Punctuated by steam hiss
“Espresso Remix”
Pencils scribble and travel
On notebooks from pockets
Capturing it all
Trying to freeze
Struggling to hold
These moments
So fleeting.


Jerry puts on a tape
Of Jane’s new song
It’s not out yet
(But Perry’s a friend)
and we listen while working
Creating and laughing
A soundtrack with resonance
For what’s happening here
The artists and writers
Musicians and fools
All gathered together
In the wee morning hours
With cigarettes
and music
and magnolia
In the air.


And Jabberjaw on Pico
Is like Paris
Or Berlin
Or New York
In the 20’s
Except that it’s here
and “at this moment…”
(Now twenty years gone)
Each minute sang
and things inexorably changed
For good
and for bad
But never the same
As those nights
When we’d drive
The future


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10 2013

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